The Institute's board of trustees is known as the Corporation. Its members include distinguished leaders in science, engineering, industry, education and public service, and ex officio, the President, Chairman, Treasurer, and Secretary of the Corporation. Between quarterly meetings, the Corporation functions through its officers and Executive Committee.
The Corporation is currently comprised of 72 active members. A total of 8 members serve ex officio for the duration of their appointments: the Chairman, President, Secretary, and Treasurer of the Corporation; the President of the Alumni/ae Association; and 3 representatives of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts -- the Governor, Chief Justice, and Secretary of Education.
No more than 25 Life Members are elected to serve without specific term until they attain the age of 75, at which point they transfer to the status of Life Member Emeritus. (They may elect to transfer earlier, but not earlier than 65 years of age.) Life Members Emeriti remain interested and active in the Institute's affairs and may attend meetings of the Corporation, although they are not eligible to vote.
Term Members (no more than 25), Alumni/ae Nominees (no more than 15), and representatives of Recent Graduating Classes (no more than 5) serve five-year terms. Only Term Members may serve an additional term without a break of at least one year.
Members are proposed by the Membership Committee and elected each spring by the Corporation as a whole. The Membership Committee solicits nominations from members of the Corporation itself, from the Alumni/ae Association, and from the wider world of academia, government, and business. Because of the term system used by the Corporation, about eight positions open up each year. Representatives of recent graduating classes are nominated by vote of their classmates.
Almost all trustees are graduates of the Institute, but this is not a requirement. Other factors that bear on nominations for membership stem from a desire for good representation among geographical regions, professions, gender, and race. In general, the Corporation seeks the highest levels of commitment and sustained involvement in the affairs of MIT.